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Ohio Trivia

Ohio has a history full of interesting people, places and firsts that match our natural landscape of rolling hills, rich farmlands, and thick forests.

Ohio has been nicknamed the Mother of Presidents, the Birthplace of Aviation, the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad, the Buckeye State and the Heart of It All.

As Ohioans, we have a rich heritage that we enjoy sharing with the rest of the country and the world.

Ohio State BungeeThe only state without a state flag

Ohio's state flag is really not technically a "flag"— it's a burgee! A burgee is a triangular shaped pennant that is more often associated with maritime flags.

We're not sure that John Eisemann was aware of this or not when he first presented his flag to fly over the Ohio Building pavilion in 1901, but our guess is that he did. Coming from Cleveland and being around Lake Erie, John probably was aware of this distinction, however, the Ohio legislature probably didn't realize the distinction when the adopted his design.

John Eisemann was the architect that designed the Ohio Building for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. His flag was simply an ornamentation to top off his design. The Ohio Legislature liked it, and finally adopted the flag's design as the official Ohio State Flag in 1902. More about the Ohio State Flag>>

Edward MurphyMurphy's Law

You've probably heard this law at some time:

"If something can go wrong, it will go wrong"

While the saying can be attested to a team of Air Force engineers conducting tests at what is now Edwards Air Force Base in California, the name Murphy's Law was in reference to Captain Edward A. Murphy Jr. stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.

Captain Murphy was one of the engineers working on the rocket sled tests being conducted in California. When one of the lab technicians improperly wired a sensor being used in the experiments, Captain Murphy commented:

If there is any way to do it wrong, he will.

Thus was created Murphy's Law.

Edison BirthplaceThomas Edison born in Milan Ohio, developed not only the first light bulb, but also the phonograph, motion picture camera.

Wilberforce University became the nation's first college owned and operated by African-Americans in 1856.

The Wright Brothers became the first men to fly in a powered airplane that they designed in their bicycle shop in Dayton.

John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth in 1962. His boyhood home is in Cambridge Ohio.

Neil Armstrong was the first person to step foot on the moon in 1969. Neil was from Wapakoneta.

5 Geographic Regions of Ohio"Ohio, The Heart of it All"

That phrase was created in 1984 by the Ohio Division of Travel and tourism to promote Ohio tourism. The phrase was adopted for several reasons, chief among them was that the geographic shape of the state has a heart shape. Also, because Ohio offers so much to do and see, they figured "it" best described everything.

That phrase was replaced in the early 2000s by a new slogan: "Ohio, So Much to Discover." Another politically correct phrase equally forgettable. We prefer the phrase: "the heart of America". Now we don't have any say over what the Ohio tourism department says or does, but we think our phrase says everything you need to know about Ohio.

Professional Football

The American Professional Football Association (direct forerunner of the NFL) was founded in Canton, Ohio on Sept. 17, 1920. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton.

The Wall MemorialOne of the most visited monuments in Washington DC has its roots in Ohio

Maya Ying Lin was born in Athens Ohio in 1959 and later attended Ohio University. She won a national design competition for the Vietnam War memorial built in Washington DC in 1982.


Spirit of ColumbusGeraldine Mock

What makes Geraldine special, besides being a wife and mother with 3 children, it's not that she was manager of Columbus' Port Columbus, that she was a pilot, and it's not that she once complained to her husband about not having anything interesting to do to occupy her time. What makes Geraldine special is that with only 500 hours of solo flight time under her belt, that she decided to fly around the world solo at the suggestion of her husband.

Geraldine Mock (Jerrie) became the first woman to solo around the world in 1964 flying an old 1953 Cessna 180 that she christened "The Spirit of Columbus". The flight took a total of 30 days and she covered 22,858 miles in 158 actual flying hours.

Jerrie Mock set the record for the first woman to fly solo around the world, she also set some other unofficial records: first woman to fly from the US to Africa via the North Atlantic, first woman to fly across the Pacific in a single engine aircraft, the first woman to fly the Pacific from west to east, and the first woman to fly both the Atlantic and the Pacific

Today her plane is located in in the National Air and Space Museum.

Snow FallThe Snowiest Big City in the United States

According to meteorologists who track such things, the snowiest big city in the United States is actually... Denver Colorado. I know, I know, you thought maybe I was going to say something like, say Cleveland. Actually, Cleveland is the 2nd Snowiest Big City in the United States according to Forbes who has the time to compile such meaningful lists. With 59.3" of snow falling in Cleveland each winter on average over the last 50 years, gives it the dubious title of 2nd Snowiest Place in the United States (that includes Alaska and Hawaii). How much more snow does Denver average than Cleveland to garner that Number 1 Ranking you might ask? Well, 7 tenths of an inch is all it takes. Don't worry Cleveland, there's always next year.

In 2010, in Forbe's Top Ten List of "America's Worst Winter Weather Cities, "Cleveland was awarded the number ranking.

When cities of all size are considered in the contest, a town probably nobody ever heard of, Valdez, Alaska, came in first with 27' falling annually. Cleveland dropped out of the top 10 listing to 11th position.

Standard OilFirst Gas Station in America

Two Standard Oil men, B.A. Mathews and H.S. Hollingsworth, recognized the opportunity the new horseless carriages meant for the new century. To take advantage of this opportunity, the 2 men created America’s first ever service station in Columbus.

More on the first service station More...


Governor HollisterOhio's First Female Governor

Not too many years ago (1998) Ohio had its FIRST WOMAN GOVERNOR. She actually only held office for less than a month, but she was officially the governor of Ohio. Her name: Nancy Putnam Hollister and she was sworn in as our 66th governor on December 31, 1998.

Hollister was governor George Voinovich's Lieutenant Governor. Voinovich's term was almost up and he wanted to be sworn into office as a US Senate so he resigned his governor's office so he could be sworn in on January 1, 1999. Upon Governor Voinovich's resignation, Hollister became Ohio's chief executive. Hollister was the first woman to become governor. Her term was a short one, however, lasting only eleven days from late December 1998 to early January 1999. Bob Taft, whom voters elected in November 1998, took office in January 1999.

Stars, personalities and people of note for one reason or other, born in Ohio

Besides being the Mother of Presidents, Ohio has also been the Mother of lot of other folks whose names have been put in the history books and the lights of the silver screen. Here's some you may have heard about:

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Dean Martin--born in Steubenville in 1917, was a high-school drop out, a whiskey runner, a boxer, and a steel mill worker. He went on to become one of the most famous singers, movie actor and TV personality of the 50s and 60s.

Clark Gable-- born in 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio.

Paul Newman-- born in 1925 near Cleveland.

Roy Rogers-- famous TV cowboy, was born in 1911 in Cincinnati.

Pat Brady -- born in Toledo was Roy Rogers sidekick on the Roy Rogers TV show

Bob Hope -- although Bob Hope wasn't actually born in Ohio (he was born in England) he and his family moved to Cleveland when he was 5 years old.

Sarah Jessica Parker-- was born in Nelsonville in 1965.

Anne Heche-- born in Aurora in 1965.

Martin Sheen-- born 1940 in Dayton.

Steven Spielberg-- was born in Cincinnati in 1947.

Halle Berry-- was born in Cleveland in 1966.

Katie Holmes-- born in Toledo in 1978

Drew Carey-- was also born in Cleveland, but in 1958.

Jamie Farr-- known for his character Klinger in the TV show MASH, was born in Toledo.

Henry Mancini-- born in Cleveland in 1924.

Erma Bombeck-- the great American humorist was born in Dayton in 1927 and is buried under a big rock in Dayton that was brought back to Ohio from her home in Arizona.

Toni Morrison-- this Pulitzer Prize winning author was born in Lorain Ohio in 1931.

Gloria Steinem-- founding editor of MS Magazine and co-founder of the modern feminist movement was born in Toledo in 1934.

Jack Paar-- host of the Tonight Show before Johnny Carson was born in Canton in 1918.

Phil Donahue-- was born in Cleveland in 1935 and was the first to introduce talk-tv with his show The Phil Donahue Show in Dayton Ohio, which became the longest continuous run syndicated talk show in U.S. television history.

Paul Lynde-- a long time TV and movie comedian was born in Mount Vernon in 1927

Margaret Hamilton-- a name that most people won't recognize until you mention a character she played in the movies: The wicked witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz movie with Judy Garland. She was born in Cleveland in 1902.

Gordon Jump-- is another actor whose name you probably don't recognize, but will recognize the character he played from hit TV show WKRP in Cincinnati which aired in the mid 70s. He played the role of the station manager, Arthur Carlson. Later in his life, he also played the lonely Maytag Repairman role in many television commercials. Gordon was born in Dayton in 1932.

Allison Janney-- played the press secretary C.J. Cregg on the television series The West Wing was also born in Dayton in 1960.

Doris Day-- was born in Cincinnati in 1924. Known as the ""All-American Girl." Her movie career began in 1948 which established her as both an accomplished singer and movie star.

Ted Turner-- founder of CNN, TCM, and TNT was also born in Cincinnati in 1938.

Gates McFadden-- she played the chief medical officer Beverly Crusher in the TV series: Star Trek: The Next Generation. Born in Cuyahoga Falls in 1949.

Nancy Wilson-- has recorded over 60 albums, half of which have appeared on the Billboard charts, was born in Chillicothe Ohio in 1937, but grew up in Columbus where she graduated from West High School.

Rosemary Clooney-- singer, movie actress, and TV host. Born in Kentucky, but moved with her family to Cincinnati when she was 13. She is George Clooney's aunt.

Phyllis Diller-- female comedienne, stage performer and actress, was born in Lima Ohio in 1917.

Lillian Gish-- movie actress, stage performer and the first female director in 1920 was born in Springfield in 1893.

Annie Oakley-- born in Woodland Ohio (now known as Willowdell) in 1860 became known as a highly skilled sharpshooter. "Little Sure Shot" was the name that Sioux Chief Sitting Bull gave her when he saw her shooting skills.

Ruby Dee-- born in Cleveland in 1924. She has appeared in numerous stage and screen productions.

Teri Garr-- television and movie actress was born in Lakewood, Ohio in 1947.

Luke Perry-- actor, directory and producer was born in Mansfield Ohio in 1965.

Jim Backus-- was born in 1913 in Cleveland. Although he played in numerous movies and television productions, he will probably be best remembered for his role on Gilligan's Island as Thurston Howell III.

Joel Grey-- singer and actor, was born in Cleveland in 1932.

Tim Conway-- born in 1933 in Willoughby. He is both a well known actor and writer.

Joe Flynn-- born in Youngstown in 1924, perhaps best known as "Old Leadbottom" on the hit TV series McHale's Navy that first aired in the early 1960s.

Molly Shannon-- who gained fame on Saturday Night Live in 1975 was born in 1964 in Shaker Heights.

Ernest Tidyman-- a novelist and screenwriter, best known for his screenplay The French Connection. Ernest was born in Cleveland in 1928.

Chad Lowe-- was born in Dayton in 1968. He is the younger brother of Rob Lowe and he is an actor, director and producer.

Michael Pataki-- born in Youngstown in 1938, had an acting career that spanned 50 years on both the silver screen and television.